, Historical Settings
Nitaro was the son of Satarou, a boatman of Kanbara, Kaneki village, Aomori Prefecture. He was born in the lowest class of the hierarchy, and he had lost his mother soon after he was born, but he grew healthy. However when he was 8 years old, he had smallpox and lost his sight. In spite of these misfortunes, he was interested in flute and shakuhachi, and he was looking for his way of life.
One day, he was fascinated by the play of Tamana who was a woman bard, and he asked her to teach him playing shamisen. Though Tamana was traveling with her daughter, Yuki, she stayed at Kanbara for a while and taught him playing shamisen. After finishing the basic lesson, she left Kanbara.
When Nitaro was 11 years old, another misfortune came. He lost his father, and he lost all his relatives. He made up his mind to live off playing shamisen. He was living with the help of Tomekichi whom he thought as his brother, and Omatsu who was a mistress of an inn near the river.
As time went by, Nitaro became popular around Kaneki, but Todouza hindered him. Todouza was a group of artists that had been sponsored by the Edo government, but the system had been abolished when the Edo government had collapsed. However, they boasted their past glories and envied his success. During their conflicts, Naitaro met Yuki, the daughter of Tamana who had taught him shamisen, and she became his best partner.
In order to entertain audiences, he began to play shamisen stronger than before. Then he often cut the strings and broke the skin of shamisen. Then, he realized that the thin string shamisen was not fit for his playing.
When he went to Hirosaki to listen to Gitayu, he wanted to change his shamisen to thick string one. However, it was too expensive for him.
On the other hand, Kikunosuk, a son of a brewer, came home after his study in Tokyo. He was wondering which way he should go, to succeed his father’s business or to found a newspaper office. He was attracted by Nitaro’s way of life, and he resolved his mind to go to the United States to study management of a newspaper office. When he left Japan, he gave Nitaro a thick string shamisen.
To reward Kikunosuke, he had to master a thick string shamisen, but it wasn’t easy for him to master. He tried a hard training of itako; he stopped eating and sleeping. After 7 days’ hard training, he attained a state of perfect self-effacement. Meanwhile, Todoza sent Taharaboh, who was thought to be a genius that appeared once in 10 years. Taharaboh challenged Niharo to play shamisen.